This blog post is the second installment of a series on church camp. You can find the first post about Kids Camp by clicking this link here.
And again, I have to just get it out and call it Junior High Camp. No, not middle school camp. Junior High Camp. With the proper letters capitalized and all. I’m just weird, I know. I know!
For this camp, we had an even smaller attendance from our church. My daughter Becca (13), another girl from our church, and myself. I was very excited to spend time with these 2 girls as one is my daughter and I love the other one dearly. This camp we had about 80 kids in attendance, again a big drop from the old days. But more on that in another post… Teen Camp A (JUNIOR HIGH CAMP, heh…) was for those in 6th-9th grades.
(Okay, I’m just going to refer to it as Junior High Camp for the remainder of this post. I’m sorry, I can’t help myself. I don’t mind the other name at all. But it just
rolls off the tongue, er, flows on to the keyboard/reads easier. So follow: Junior High Camp (the old skool name) = Teen Camp A (the new official name). Both mean church camp for tweens and teens. Now moving right along… and pretending I didn’t just get all neurotic so early in a blog post…)
Camp ran from Wednesday afternoon until Sunday morning, with chapel in the morning and evening.
Morning chapel began in the with a “warm up” song… They were the same songs to get the wiggles out at Kids Camp, but it was still fun. Not that there wasn’t enough exercise walking up and down the mountain from dorm to chapel and back… But we could all use a little more, right? 😉 Especially with all the delicious food! It was also a great way to transition from being loud all morning to being on task in service.
Chapel still had games, but the focus changed from kids competing somewhat randomly to dorms competing against each other in “Dorm Wars”, which also carried over in to the rest of the day/night activities. Musical pies, who could drink the grossest concoction, guess the movie title by the emojis, stuff like that. We would then have worship, which was some of the same songs from Kids Camp minus the motions, (though some of us just couldn’t help ourselves and let motions pop out now and then) and a few more songs added in. Next would be the big reveal of who won/lost dorm inspections… which involved losers cleaning bathrooms and winners being the first in line for lunch. We would then be dismissed to go back to our dorms to have devotions and discuss our reflections from the sermon the night before.
Evening chapel began and flowed similarly. Worship lasted a little longer than morning service. With each service, the kids became more involved and hungrier for the presence of God. Towards the end of the worship portion, one of our SoCal Youth Directors, Roque or Nancy (who was still pregnant and still putting us all to shame), would give a statement to encourage the kids to draw closer or dig deeper. A few different nights, instead of one of the District Youth Directors, a Youth Pastor in attendance as a counselor would make the statement instead. Every time it was right on point and definitely God inspired, resonating with the kids.
It was refreshing to not only have Directors and a speaker that were obedient to give the message given to them by the Holy Spirit in the tone that it should be delivered, but also obedient as to WHO should give the message… and then that these Youth Pastors were obedient to deliver the message they received in the way it was intended. Whether that be excitable, serious, emotional… because how it is delivered makes a huge impact on how it is received. Then the person hearing the message is much more likely to be obedient as well. It is a chain that just keeps going down, I know. But when you have seen ministries that are not always obedient, it was exactly as I said, refreshing.
For Junior High Camp, Mark McGaffin’s series was titled “Flip The Switch”. He actually built a giant make-shift switch and presented it in a way to really grab the kids attention on the very first night, having the sound/lights people do techy things to make it seem as if it was really plugged in and could function part of the time. (He’s still working on this invention after all.) I thought it was cute when the first night one kid I didn’t know turned around and said to me, “I can’t tell if it’s real or not.” Hey, maybe it is!
Bro. Mark’s sermons were mostly based on stories of Peter with titles such as “Flip The Switch: From Doubt to Faith”, “From Guilt To Grace”, “From Fear To Courage”, and I know there was one more but here is where my old age comes in… I can’t remember what it was right now. While the messages were geared towards tweens and young teens, they still challenged some of us adults and inspired us.
The altar calls at Junior High Camp were REALLY good. Kids came down and gave their lives to Jesus. Tweens and teens were filled with the Holy Spirit. People were revived and renewed. There were different calls for prayer each night, for those with certain problems to come down and receive prayer. Calls were also made for if those that just needed prayer for something else. These altar calls usually began with Mark after his message and would also include another call after a few minutes from our leader, Roque, or another youth pastor in attendance that had made a statement at the end of worship. These kids were getting closer to Jesus and experiencing Father God and the Holy Spirit in ways they hadn’t before. Some of them, one being my daughter, matured a lot spiritually for having only been at camp 4 days.
Similar to kids camp in that there was good food, friends made, lizards caught/released (Though less than kids camp… what is it with kids and lizards? Not just boys, girls too!), and dirt sticking to everyone, tweens and teens church camp was a lot of fun.
Lunch took a little longer since for Junior High Camp lunch was not provided by the dining hall (breakfast and dinner were still provided) and was bought by each camper from the Snack Shack… the camps well known grill and snack bar… where they could choose what they want and wait for it to be prepared. This is like a rite of passage for some of these kids. Same at Kids Camp, but there they are mostly buying candy, sno cones, and sometimes a small meal after evening service. For some it is the first time that they are on their own somewhere, without their parents, with money that they can choose how to spend. Money that they can order what they want to eat with no judgements from grown ups. They loved it! So while lunch didn’t take forever, it did dig in to a bit more of the afternoon time, which was fine because there was a LOT of time.
Afternoons consisted of optional activities from softball, basketball, volleyball… (some other kind of ball I’m sure… Do I look athletic? 😉 There was sports. How’s that? Ha!) to making tie dye shirts, paint classes, and other options. Some of the activities required a small fee, but it was never more than a few dollars and always worth it.
I quickly regretted not making a tie dye shirt… So when another day they offered the paint class, I was glad that Becca, the other girl from our church, and a friend that they made while there all wanted to do it so I wouldn’t look ridiculous painting by myself a picture that looks like it was painted by a 3 or 4 year old instead of a 34 year old. I learned a lot about my daughter and the other girls I was sitting with just by painting a picture together. Funny how that works, huh? How we say stuff without actually saying it when we’re being creative? Another blog post for another day…
Afternoons also meant… DORM WARS! Now, dorm wars outside of chapel isn’t “Oh, let’s stand around and play a game where we guess/yell stuff or get messy and gross”. No. Dorm wars means actual war… Like, not guns and death, but war on old people’s bodies as the kids run so fast ahead of you that you begin singing that old song, “See the bright light shine! It’s just about home time! I can see my Father standin’ at the doooooor”! Basically, it is a group scavenger style race. Each dorm carries their flag and begins with a card stating what station to go to. You RUN to that station, do the required activity (usually something physical, but sometimes eating something gross or a puzzle kind of thing), get a card saying where to go next, repeat. For like 3 years… or maybe it was around 30 minutes. I’ve blocked some of the trauma out. What I have not blocked out is where every hidden bathroom is located because I was drinking a TON of water and running made it… well, you get it.
Now, this is where I have to give a shout out to another counselor in our dorm, Mallorie, because she showed up and showed out. See, each dorm is required to have at least 1 counselor participate… She did it almost every time and rocked it. She also drank the gross stuff in chapel and showed us all how to take a pie to the face without really taking it. Now, me having left my brain at the Carl’s Jr we stopped at to use the bathroom on the way to camp, forgot until I rolled my ankles that I’m not supposed to be doing things like running. Did that stop me? No. I kept trying. Until I finally realized I had lost my mind, I am not young anymore (sad face), and parked myself on a bench.
Did I say afternoons meant dorm wars? Oh, that’s not right. Afternoons and nights after chapel also meant dorm wars. Even more fun in the dark and better because less people see you fall or spit dripping out of your mouth as you run! In all seriousness, it was fun. I wish I was in better shape. The kids loved it. Even though our dorm (GO PIIIIIIINK!!!!) lost, probably my fault, it was still worth it… now that I can’t remember the pain.
With adolescence comes… crushes. I was shocked to see how my daughter acts when she likes a boy, which wasn’t bad, just something new and I’m not sure I’m ready for her to be a teenager yet. Can we go back to Kids Camp? No? Anyways, the kids at this church camp did differ in one major way from the way it was at my Junior High Camp. Less boy craziness. Don’t get me wrong, it was there and more so in some girls than others, but most of these girls all seemed to have more confidence in themselves and less need for the attention of a boy.
Whether or not you sent your kids and teens to church camp this Summer, the question at some point probably crossed your mind: Does church camp really make any difference other than just a giant sleep over and a bunch of junk food while playing games?
I spent some time at the youth camp our church attends last month. Here are my honest thoughts… but first, a little back story… I’ll try to keep it short…
I was born in the early 80’s, back when everyone went to some kind of camp every year. Whether church camp, scout camp, or another activity camp, almost all the kids I knew went to camp. The majority of my childhood was spent counting down until I could go to junior camp when I turned 7. From there on, my friends and I spent every year counting down until the next Summer when we would go to camp again.
It was that big of a deal, people. Really. I’ll spare you the view of a gazillion photos that I cherish to this day. Mostly because they involve embarrassing clothes and hair styles…
We would start planning our outfits around Easter, as back then we still dressed up for both services each day. Dresses, heels, hair, the works. Packing of the bags began in July. It was a major process… and in August, it would quickly come and go.
We learned something new about the God we served, made new friends, sang new songs, swapped addresses, and went home (Took the mountain with us! More on that later..) and started it all again. When I was 9 I had a really awesome (and very young) counselor named Sherry. She prayed with me, endured my sleep walking/talking, taught me all the awesomeness that is DC Talk, told us bedtime stories about Cinderella and the New Kids On The Block by flash light. Sherry was, like, so rad… She still rocks! (I can’t leave that out… 😉 ) That alone tells you about the relationships I formed during those years, as Sherry is one of my dearest friends today.
The camp I attended most as a kid and teen is the one I worked at this year. Formerly Bethel In The Hills (though many of us still call it by this name), now known as Mountain Pointe Campground, is a camp my family has attended for many years. As of this year, 4 generations of my family have now gone as either campers or workers. Founded in 1947 and owned by the SoCal District of the Pentecostal Church of God, this is the same camp that Sherry’s Grandpa along with my Grandpa and many others helped build to what it is today. It is where Sherry’s parents directed kids camp every summer for several years. So not only is church camp is one of my best childhood and teenage memories, without a doubt, it is also part of my legacy. Obviously church camp had a big impact on me and was definitely worth it.
But then I grew up… Right? Did anything come from what happened to me all those years at camp? Well, back to that later in this series. However, first let me tell you very honestly that for several years I began to wonder if church camp was worth it. Was it worth the time? The effort? The money? Are kids today still getting slammed by the presence of God and knowing just how real He is? Do they even get that they are there for God, or are they so stressed out without electronics that they can’t function without Wi-Fi to know how to have dive in to the presence of God and have fun when not in chapel? Well, in this series I will tell you how our camp went this year. Then I’ll let you decide for yourself…
Or as old people like me who can’t let go of the old labels call it: Junior Camp. (Whew, I feel better now… Okay, I’m not that bad. But I couldn’t get it through my head to stop using the old names.)
In attendance from our little church was my son, Tommy (8), 3 other boys, my pastor, and myself. No girls from our church so that meant I was bunking with a bunch of people I didn’t know… which a few years ago would have been enough to send me running home. Thanking God again for deliverance from anxiety! All together we had around 90 kids, I think. This is a big drop from the hundreds that were in attendance in my childhood, so I was a bit shocked when I first arrived. Kids camp was for those from 1st grade up to 5th grade.
Camp ran from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday morning with chapel in the morning and evening.
Each service began with a game or two and a warm up “get your wiggles out” song. The kids would then all do worship, with all of the songs including motions. Sometimes even balloons were part of worship, which to the kids was just the best thing ever. The sermon/lesson portion of the service followed a popular VBS curriculum with the sanctuary being decorated according to the theme.
The end always had an altar call, with kids coming down for prayer. The remainder of the children sitting or that had returned to their seats were gently reminded sometimes that we needed to be reverent and quiet so that the ones at the front could talk to Jesus, but not one of them complained and some would even begin to pray for those at the front from where they were sitting. Quite a few kids gave their lives to Jesus. Heartaches were mended. Lives were changed.
Let me clarify before we go any further… I want to make it clear that I DO believe that a child can give their life to Jesus, be filled with the Holy Spirit (and there isn’t a Junior Holy Spirit, either!), experience the gifts of God, etc… Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me.” He didn’t say, “They have no idea what I’m talking about and they can’t know Me until they are either 18 or 21 depending upon their state of residence.”
So yes, we had kids at church camp that were saved and came to know Jesus while at camp this year, kids that were filled with the Spirit and felt His presence strongly in a way that they will always remember. I’m sure there were also kids who may have returned home unchanged, but there is no doubt that seeds were sown and they will never forget that time they went to camp in the mountains with those people that loved Jesus.
There were things that kids told me that broke my heart, reports that made me leap, and stories that encouraged me that God is still moving in the younger generations. Our leaders from SoCal Youth, Roque and Nancy, did a great job of explaining how to pray and listen for God to these young children and how they could talk to Jesus about anything and everything. Oh, and did I mention that Nancy was pregnant and her due date was the first day of camp? That’s commitment, y’all. She didn’t have her baby until Senior Camp a week later and was probably tougher than anyone else in attendance. She put us all to shame.
The kids had a ton of fun in between services: good food, friends made, lizards caught/released, and dirt sticking to everyone. It was a blast! Hiking, basketball, dodge ball, water wars… there was a little down time but the kids didn’t seem to notice. Naturally, the kids loved being able to play outside at night for a bit after evening chapel. What kid doesn’t love running around in the dark?
You know what else kids love? Hot Cheetos, worshiping in chapel with a giant T-Rex that also makes appearances on other parts of the campground, banging on the chapel doors while chanting “CHAPEL!” or “LET US IN!”, and seeing their leaders slimed… Yes, slimed! Sometimes it was for having the dirtiest dorm, other times the cleanest. It seemed there was no avoiding it… but Teal Dorm did, thank you Jesus! 😉
I’m in quite a few Facebook groups for Children’s Pastors and while I have read horror (and rather hilarious) stories of kids not showering and other hygiene issues while at church camps, I did not see or hear any of this going on at our camp, thank goodness! Now, cleaning toilets after little people who have consumed about 90% sugar for a few days? My gag reflex is still healing… but hey! All to the glory of God and lives being changed! Amen? Amen! 😉
While a few kids had to be sent home for various ailments, it always seemed that the ones that had to go were the children who needed a touch from God the most. If church camp isn’t worth it, would the enemy fight so hard? One has to wonder… back to that later…
Part 2 can be read by clicking here.
As I mentioned on here not long ago, we have begun having monthly prayer days that have been turning out results that only God can bring. Our Father has amazed us with His love and answers to prayer!
For the month of August, I felt as though we needed more than just one day. Some of those in our Women On The Warpath group need some major breakthroughs. It also feels as though we are on the verge of something. In my spirit it feels as though if we just push a little further, something is going to break forth and flood out.
I want to see that wall break and feel that flood! We need these breakthroughs!
So this month, some of us are participating in a week instead of just the day. The prayer day will still fall during the prayer week, so we will all be united.
Also, no one will think any less of those that participate in the one day event but not the full week. However, we do appreciate any bit that you feel lead to do!
For more information, please see the links below:
August Prayer Day Event on Facebook – August 15th
August Prayer Week Event of Facebook – August 14th – 20th
Becoming A Woman On The Warpath – A post and video from Emily
Why You Need Friends When You Can’t Pray For Yourself – A post from LaToya Edwards on Club31Women.com
Challenge Yourself Spiritually With A Different Type of Fast (Just an article on Charisma that I read a few days ago that has challenged me.)
Whether said by ourselves or our mothers, at some point in our lives we have probably all heard the phrase, “If you’re being picky about what you want to eat then you probably aren’t that hungry.” (In my case, I’ve heard it a lot from my husband as we agonize to agree on a decision for dinner. 😉 )
Am I the only person that becomes pickier the more hungry I become? When I am REALLY hungry, I want something that is good and going to calm my appetite for more than a few hours. These are the times that I want to eat some of my favorite homemade from scratch meals, NOT McDonald’s.
The last few years, I have been spiritually hungry for revival. I am at the point that fun little sayings that make me feel good do not do it for me. I want the real presence of God, no matter the cost. If it steps on my toes, so be it. Fast food theology isn’t working here, I’m starving!
Are you hungry enough for your revival to eat the Bread of Life, or would you rather a quick greasy fix?
Our world is hurting. People are lost. Unbelievers have experienced enough counterfeits to know that some of what the church is putting out there for them is not going to satisfy their hunger. If they know that… then why don’t we know that as we fatten ourselves up with the junk that isn’t good for us?
We all know that a big delicious Thanksgiving meal takes work. Lots of work. But we all look forward to it and know that in the end it is going to be so worth it. We are craving that meal so badly that we spend days if not weeks planning it. That’s hunger!
Prayer, fasting, time in the Word of God, witnessing to others… sacrifices!
While “feel good” sermons and thoughts may help us momentarily, do they help us grow to trust God in the bad times? Do they challenge us to want to live more Christ like?
Picking and choosing which scripture to follow, sometimes out of context, while ignoring other important passages can be very dangerous. Beware of food poisoning!
Because church fads come and go, but God’s Word lasts forever.
Just because something may be working for someone else, it does not mean it works for everyone. Follow your own convictions and have a personal worship experience.
While reading books by wonderful Christian authors can contribute to our revival, we cannot be comforted by them alone. We need to get on our knees, open up the Bible, and experience the comfort that only the Holy Spirit can bring.
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. – John 6:35 NKJV
Last year in March, my Mom (Janice) felt to organize a day of prayer. She created a Facebook event and we invited some ladies we knew to join us. The day went well and we all agreed that we should do it again.
This last February, Emily posted a video on YouTube that she felt led by the Holy Spirit to discuss becoming a woman on the warpath.
March rolled around again, and my Mom said again that we needed another prayer day. When I went to create the Facebook event, I was surprised to find that we were almost exactly one year from when we had done the last one… So I kept the same date, thinking maybe we would have a yearly event.
The event grew fast with women coming together from all over the world, and we quickly decided to create a Facebook group. Given the word that was given to Emily the month before, I asked her if it would be okay to continue on with the same theme. On our first prayer day, we agreed that this should not be a yearly event, but once a month. God is definitely up to something here!
Back up to before we even reached the first day of prayer, we were hearing reports of prayer requests being answered! This had nothing to do with who organized it or who was praying… It was the number of ladies UNITED together and storming Heaven with prayers on each other’s behalf.
Since then, we have lost count with how many prayers have been answered in one way or another. Not every single request receives the miraculous outcome we hope for… but very many do! Homes restored, strongholds torn down, bodies healed, finances miraculously covered, favor where there was not much hope, and the list goes on and on…
We are praying daily… but we would love for more to join us that are willing to pray for a move of God. Women who are determined, women who are weak and need others to stand in the gap, women who love God and know that Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever!
Think of it as a virtual 24 hour prayer room! No matter the day, the time, or the circumstance there is a place to find someone awake that is willing to kneel in prayer. No need is too great or small… it can even be unspoken! We will pray with you, for you, cry with you, rejoice with you… We are an army, we are sisters, and we don’t stop praying until there is an answer from God.
Not interested in the Facebook group but would like to join us on the 15th every month?
The last blog post that was published on this website before last Tuesday was on September 8th. That was over 2 months ago! 2 months!
I wish I could say that this is the first time that there has been a gap in content on our little alley of the web, but it is not. Far from it, actually. I’ve lost count of how many times life has gotten in the way of cleaning out that file cabinet in my brain that holds all my creative ideas for writing, crafting, sewing, and other things. I mean, how long has it taken me to finish the pregnancy series? YEARS! Having given birth 5 times, I should be able to write that in my sleep.
This time? It wasn’t really health issues, as much. I have had a few things slowing me down, but that didn’t keep me from blogging. It has actually been 3 things that have kept me from being able to just sit and sort out those brain files. 1: I’ve been busy relearning how to serve my family best after a few chaotic years. 2: I’ve been in a season of stretching and growth. It has been painful, y’all. For real. But I am thankful for what the outcome will be. 3: I went on a trip. Alone. Without my kids or husband. For TEN DAYS! I had never done that before! Leading up to my departure, I made myself a bunch of clothes since I have now lost over 90 lbs since April 2014. I was busy!
So now, I am easing back in to “normal”. I sit down to my laptop and remember all the rules of blogging and laugh. There is no way I have the ability or time for it. Not at all. Why? Well, since you asked…
I even procrastinate procrastinating. Well, that is what my husband tells me, but I will admit he is probably correct there. When I was younger I only procrastinated things that I was not interested in. These days, nothing is exempt. I worry about being too tired to get something just right. Though when the time comes, I’m not much of a perfectionist. I have no reason or rhyme for why I do this, I guess. I am trying REALLY hard to overcome it though! If you have any tips, please share!
I used to be a lot better in this area, but something happened as I got older. I’m not really sure when I lost all those rules I memorized. I was never great at putting commas and colons where they belonged, but now I just stare at a sentence and then finally say, “I really don’t care.” Awful, I know. When my son begins learning about these things it will probably come back to me and you will likely see a difference in how I put things. Until then, I deeply apologize. (I’m sorry, Emily, Tasha, and other grammar lovers. I’m sure you cringe when you read my posts!)
There was a time that I had BIG dreams for blogging. BIG. If I was going to do this, I was going to do everything just so and I was going to keep up with everything there was to know as it changed repeatedly… Then I hit a burn out. I was tired. With all of my reading and listening, I wasn’t really getting anywhere. What did I have to show for it? Days wasted that could have been spent with my family. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did learn a lot of things that actually did help! However, when I let go, asked God to have His way with this little ministry, and just went with the flow it was then that our blog seemed to begin thriving again. I should have known better. Sorry, Lord!
The same goes for schedules and being consistent… This used to be doable. Currently? No. Just no. Not just because I procrastinate, but because my life changes rapidly and constantly. I realized one day that with my family and the health issues I have, there is no way that I can guarantee anyone anything that I can not do right then at that moment. It was so hard to learn how to say no, but making that rule for myself has caused me to not feel overwhelmed. Now if I could just stop giving myself unnecessary deadlines and then beating myself up emotionally over not keeping it. (Okay, I may have actually punched myself a few times… I’m kidding… or am I?) If my husband doesn’t care that I didn’t cross off something on my to do list for the day, then why am I distraught? Silly, I know. I’m working on it.
If you read back through some of my older posts that have affiliate links, you will see I tried. I really tried. We had banner ads, links, affiliate discount codes, the works. But it just didn’t seem natural for me. I prayed about it, because along with the blogging rules, it was causing part of my burnout. Lo and behold, God put it in someone’s heart to cover our hosting costs for Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven every year. The pressure was gone! Thank you, Jesus! Now, don’t get me wrong… When I buy something online, I try to remember to use a blogger’s affiliate link. I enjoy seeing deals in my Facebook feed from other bloggers. I love to see what someone’s favorite cleaning products, books, fabric stores, sewing notions, and homeschool curricula are. I have nothing against anyone who monetizes! I don’t even have a problem with those who blog for ministry that are monetized. In fact, I believe God has blessed those families in allowing that to work out for them! As for me and my blog, it did not please the Lord. Maybe someday I will have a switch in my brain that flips and then I will be able to naturally fit in affiliate links, banners, and all that stuff and it work. Never if it isn’t more than 14-78 cents a month though… if that… (Really, that is about what I averaged. Ugh.) and never on Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven. God spoke loud and clear to me on this one. Not gonna do it!
I have friends that can type out several posts an hour. Obviously, these friends don’t have ADHD and anxiety. I will be typing right along and WHOOP! there was a flash of color on the other side of the room and an hour later I will remember that I was writing a blog post. Really. Sometimes I will over proofread what I have written to the point that it makes little sense because I worry that I will be taken the wrong way or that I put a comma where there should be a colon. (Which is why I now just don’t care… Too much time wasted! This occurred to me when I noticed the wrong punctuation on another blog and thought, “Hey! I know where her heart was in writing this. This silly mark on the screen made no difference in what I took from this!” And freedom was born…) Add in there that I usually have at least 1 child awake while I am, and if all children are asleep then I actually have a chance to sit in silence with my husband if he is not traveling for work… Yeah, my kids seem to have something wrong with me keeping my thought process on track. I’m sure your kids never interrupt you. HA! Just kidding. 😉
This kind of has to do with the above mentioned lack of monetization. You’re probably like me and don’t have an abundance of money floating around. Since this blog does not bring in an income, I cannot justify spending much money on it. Everything on this blog is done by someone who contributes to it. We don’t spend money on graphics or stock photos. We don’t spend money on design (and it shows! 😉 ) or schedulers. Sometimes I wish we could, because many of those things would make it all easier and prettier… But I just can’t.
This shocks you, right? Not. I can’t stick to one topic. Sure, this is a Christian Mommy blog, for the most part. But we talk about everything on here. In fact, I would say it leans more towards “Christian Mommies that write a lot about Christian Womanhood.” I would probably like to write more often about sewing, crafting, cooking, baking, etc. as well. Hmm, maybe I will… You know, someday. Not now. I’m not setting a deadline either. Should that period of have been a comma? Oh well…
Now, not everyone who has a blog is sacrificing their family to keep up their post count. That is obviously not true! However, our family has more than a few unique situations that cause me to have to come and go from the blogging world. This used to really stress me out. I used to feel like a loser if I didn’t publish a post on schedule… you know, the schedule that I developed myself. Isn’t that silly? But then, I FINALLY handed it all over to God and my priorities became clear. My first ministry is my family. If I can do more outside of that and God is willing to allow it, that is wonderful! However, during this season of my life, my focus is at home. Everything else is icing. Not long after the Holy Spirit helped me realize that my guilt was a lie put in my mind by the enemy to make me feel as though I was letting God and everyone else down by not getting a post up (I know, that had to be ridiculous to read… It was humiliating and painful to type!) I was checking my email one night and read this post from Preschoolers and Peace. I remember I sent it to Emily as her and I had been having a similar discussion. She sent a nice reply saying she liked it and agreed, but she probably wanted to say, “Duh, Angie. Duh.” Being Emily is very Southern though, she’d be more likely to just say, “Bless your heart.” Anyways, with that, the guilt was gone. I still have times where I miss writing all.the.time. But years from now, I would rather the memories of my family than the memories of my laptop screen and blogging binder… Which brings us to…
I have a HUGE blogging binder. It is gorgeous from an organization perspective. You would not believe how detailed it is! Why so detailed? I don’t know! But I remember that I had a reason for every bit of it in there at the time. It is about 5 inches thick and includes every type of blogging related document that I would ever need… Except I have a hard time remembering to use it. As of this moment it has been inside a cubby of my coffee table for… um, not sure, but a long time… and really needs to be moved to a better place if not re-purposed. Now, when we attempted monetizing the blog, it was so handy and kept me sane. I had quite a few of my ideas and deadlines for reviews written out, many of the sites that we were affiliates with listed, the list goes on. But when I don’t keep up with it, it just becomes a mess and an anchor. An anchor that holds me down and makes me not like blogging. I will admit that I have been thinking of bringing a smaller version of it back in to play here soon, but it will probably be more like a notebook and less like an encyclopedia.
So after all that, why do I do it all? The first reason is that I genuinely feel like the Lord wants this website up. In 2011 when it began, I had already had several blogs that were similar and felt like they had run their course. My 2 followers disagreed, but I was done. Then God began to lead me back to it little by little and I followed. He seems to have a purpose here, and if that purpose is for the sake of just 1 person, then it is worth it. So until He tells me to stop, I will continue. I do enjoy writing. I love to encourage others. I am blessed greatly when readers encourage me in one way or another. But what it really all comes down to is Jesus… and that is why no matter how terrible I am at blogging this site stays up.
One day last week a thought came to mind about how so many say they want Christ in their life, but they are just not ready. I was sitting at my sewing machine thinking about this and I remembered how Jesus asked God that if it was His will, to keep Him from having to be tortured and crucified. Two days later I made a graphic and posted it to a few of our social media pages.
In my dream, a group of us were sitting in a front yard and I felt that we were at home. That we all lived there. I was surrounded by family, friends, and people I don’t know. But in my dream, we were all family.
The yard had a fence and a gate. A few of us looked out and noticed other friends and family that we knew wandering around the neighborhood. They were dazed and lost, almost like they were sleep walking. Eventually all of us in the yard started calling each of them by name and shouting:
“Come home! Come home! You’ll be safe!”
Many heard us, woke up, and came running in the gate for a happy reunion while some continued wandering.
I woke up excited, but concerned.
Remember being a kid and playing outside? When it began to get dark, the porch light would turn on and everyone knew it was time to go home. I still remember the sound of my Grandma’s voice when she would call out my name. “Angela! It’s time to come home! Come on, it’s getting dark out!”
The times are getting dark, we all know that. The “porch light” is going to light up any minute, and it will be time to go to our Heavenly home. (I CAN’T WAIT!)
How many of our loved ones are too busy to realize that it is getting dark and almost time to go home? We need to start getting their attention!
Why aren’t we trying harder? Are we too busy to care about the souls that need Christ?
I want to challenge every Christian to call or message someone they know that needs Jesus. Reach out to them. Ask them how they are doing, if they have given any thought to God lately. Remind them just how much He loves them. See if they want to meet up to talk or come to church with you. Don’t make a laundry list of their sins and tell them how wrong they are. Love the lost more than the enemy hates them. Just shine the light of Jesus in to their life.
Some people just need that little reminder and will come running right back in. Others may not be as eager to listen. Keep praying for them and being a friend to them, don’t just shut them out.
With everything going on in the world, it is too easy to just give up and say that no one wants to listen. We need to keep fighting the good fight and bring in the lost! Wake them up and ask them to come home!
Two weeks ago today, I put my oldest daughter on a plane to return home to her dad. That morning, I put the following as my Facebook status.
When Tommy was born, he was very sick. When it was time for me to be discharged from the hospital one of my doctors came to see me in the NICU, as I was only in my room when I was not allowed at his bedside. She told me that while I would be back in 3 hours, leaving him would feel like I was cutting my own arm off with a saw and leaving it at the hospital as I returned home.
She was right.
But what I didn’t realize that day was that a few months later my older 2 kids would be moving away against my wishes and that it would be her words that got me through every departure.
Just because it feels like my arm is missing, it is not. Just because my heart aches and my arms are empty, I am still a mother. Even though this hurts so very much and I want to collapse, I have children that need me to go on. God will strengthen me, and I can do the goodbyes and pretending to be strong even when I am not. I will do it again in 3 weeks when the other leaves. I will continue the distracting for the entire family the next 46 weeks and all the many cries from younger siblings to “please just bring them back” when I wish I could.
My arm is still here. I am still their mom. I will (try to) stay strong, and in June these arms and my heart will be full again. But today, I’m crying. A lot.
A week from today, my oldest son will be heading home. (He came down a little later than his sister.) The shock that August is really here already is not settling well in our home. We all feel as though the anticipation for summer was just a few days ago. I keep asking my husband to slow down time or reverse it, as if he had the ability. Time flies when you’re having fun.
I have learned over the last few years just what to expect in the coming weeks: All of us will cry. There will be a lot of prayer and hugging. Some of us will be cranky for a few days. Johnny Ben, my son with severe autism, will walk about the house looking for his brother and sister. He will want to sleep where they slept for a while. (He’s been sleeping in his big sister’s spot since she left.) We will look through photos and videos while we reminisce. Almost immediately we will begin a countdown to next summer.
I will distract… and I will distract my family as much as possible. It’s not that we are not coping with our feelings. It is that this is how our life is, and it can be really painful. So to lessen the stinging and gnawing pain, we have to look away for a bit sometimes. Kinda like how someone might look away when getting a shot of antibiotics. We will talk to the kids in another state on the phone and in messages and we will discuss the situation we are in. But staying busy at the end of summer, I have found, has been the answer to rationing the tears. We will dive into a new year of homeschooling, go on a few fun adventures, I will attempt some craft and sewing projects, we’ll have a few long movie nights, science projects, and, hopefully, a lot of laughter.
It still hurts. We still feel a deep emptiness. We talk about our feelings very openly and pray together. But staying busy is better than wallowing in misery and allowing the pain to suck every bit of joy out of our lives. I may be a non-custodial mother to two of my children, but that does not mean that I have to walk around crying every minute of every day.
I don’t expect anyone who has not been in my shoes to understand how this feels. I do know that just as much as homeschooling parents are tired of the “Oh, I could never do that.” comments, I’m tired of hearing about it in reference to not seeing my children every day. I’m not stronger than anyone. I’m not a fragile mess because my kids are not with me either. This is not something that while I held my two oldest babies for the first time that I thought would ever happen. But it did, and I somehow managed to miraculously survive those first few years. I would never wish it on my worst enemy.
I do know that I am blessed to still have them at all. How can I complain when mothers on the other side of the planet are burying their children because of famine or faith?
There have been times I have not handled these situations the best way, and I will be the first to admit that. Thankfully, God finally got through my hard head and I realized the best way to deal with my feelings.
During my Jr. High and High School years, I became fascinated with Philippians 4. I read it over and over. Judye even placed a plaque with Philippians 4:13 over my desk when I was her pupil in High School and it was drilled into my heart. Years later, I understood why. The first time I felt any kind of peace was when I had said to someone that I just didn’t know if I could be strong enough for this. Without even thinking, in the next breath I stated Philippians 4:13, which has been my favorite scripture for many years.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
Whenever I feel like I just can’t do this again, I remember that Christ has me in the palm of His hand and He will give me the strength I need.
There is no one that can relate to my heart like He can. No one.
That is where I find my peace, in Christ.
I take the pain that could do me in and instead of self-destructing I use the creativity God has given me and I recycle the darkness into some, um, interesting creations. Ha! Okay, some of them are pretty good. Others? Well, let’s just say that a good friend and I have a running joke about my attempts at cake pops. I could fill a whole other website with all of my Pinterest fails. But hey, even they bring laughter. 😉 Laughter is good!
If you are a non-custodial parent reading this, I pray that God would comfort your heart. That He would calm your spirit and help you to cope in a way better than anything else can offer. There are healthy ways to handle the pain, and there are the options that sometimes may just seem easier. Remember that even when your children are not with you, they still need you. They need you to be healthy and whole physically, mentally, and spiritually. When you feel like collapsing, reach out to Jesus and let Him hold you. I have learned that He’s always there and will always catch you if you let Him. Feel free to leave a comment below if you would like us to pray for you.
I know I’m not the only one that feels like this.
Maybe you even feel like this…
Either way, I don’t think anyone fully enjoys this sense of not knowing where they are or how they got here. Sure, it feels exciting and adventurous, but also scary.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with where I am. It’s just that life is not what I thought it was going to be. It’s better, more beautiful, and a ton more work… but it’s just not what I ever thought life would be. Perhaps this is why people have a mid-life crisis and jump completely out of their own character and into a personality completely parallel to anything that resembles them. I can kind of see how it happens now, as without Christ I would probably stand back some days and shake with fright. Actually, I pretty much did that during a divorce at 22, so I get it. But now I’m 33. I do way too much thinking about “how will this all work out” and while I seem to have moments of tears and stress, I don’t completely snap.
Because, if I’m being honest, it is the excitement of “What will God do with this next?” that keeps me from freaking out.
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My first dream, before anything else came to thought, was to be a Mom. It was always at the top of my goals. There was a time as a little girl that I wanted to be a lawyer and later a doctor. Different hopes and dreams were born and faded, but the only dream that grew was to have a family.
What I didn’t dream of was heartbreaking miscarriages, divorce, becoming a non-custodial parent, and having special needs children. I didn’t plan for illnesses, failed moves, children in surgery 1800 miles away, extended business trips, unfinished blog series, a kitchen covered in dish soap, and a lot of waiting. I never anticipated so many tears. Ever.
I look around some days and wonder where I am and how I got here, because nothing seems familiar.
But without those broken dreams, I wouldn’t appreciate the blessings that God has given me. I wouldn’t understand how miraculous it is to give birth to a living child. Never would I have understood how rare it is to find a good man who loves his family, puts them above all else, and after years together still puts up with this neurotic wife of his. Maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated all the little moments with each of my children if 2 of my kids were not with me all the time. While the most difficult job I’ve ever had, being a special needs Mom has brought more love into my life than I ever imagined. Everything has brought growth and wisdom that I would have never gained otherwise.
Over the last few days, I realized that I need to put a reoccurring dream on hold once again. I’m not going to say that I’m not disappointed. I am. But again, I can’t wait to see what God will do next! The dream isn’t broken, just on hold. The peace that Jesus brings is so sweet and nothing else can compare.
After all, my biggest dream has come true. Waking up every day as his wife and their Mom is a wonderful feeling, and being God’s child is amazing!
If you’re looking around and not quite sure of where you are and how you got there, cling to our Heavenly Father. He knows exactly what He’s doing and has a better plan than any we could ever imagine.